Charlene Stringfellow

Charlene Stringfellow

Published: 06 Oct 2023


The Long Riders is a classic and highly acclaimed western movie that was released in 1980. Directed by Walter Hill, the film tells the captivating story of the infamous James-Younger gang, notorious outlaws who wreaked havoc during the post-Civil War era in the United States. With its star-studded cast, including real-life brothers playing the roles of the gang members, The Long Riders offers a unique and immersive viewing experience. This action-packed film combines thrilling gunfights, intricate plot twists, and a touch of historical authenticity to create a memorable cinematic masterpiece. In this article, we will explore 37 fascinating facts about The Long Riders, shedding light on its production, the cast, and the impact it had on the genre. So saddle up and get ready to delve into the wild west!

Table of Contents

star-studded cast

The Long Riders boasts an impressive ensemble cast, including four sets of real-life brothers playing famous outlaws from the Old West.

iconic director

The film was directed by Walter Hill, known for his gritty and stylish approach to storytelling, making The Long Riders a visually striking Western.

historical accuracy

The Long Riders adheres closely to the historical accounts of the notorious James-Younger Gang and their infamous robberies and exploits.

brotherly collaboration

The actors playing the outlaw brothers, including the Keach brothers and the Carradine brothers, collaborated extensively to accurately portray the unique dynamics between the real-life siblings.

authentic sets and locations

The Long Riders was filmed on location in Missouri, the real-life stomping grounds of the James-Younger Gang, ensuring an authentic Western atmosphere.

thrilling action sequences

The movie features intense and well-choreographed action scenes, including gripping horseback chases and dramatic shootouts.

critical acclaim

Upon its release, The Long Riders received positive reviews for its innovative storytelling, strong performances, and attention to historical detail.

memorable score

The film’s soundtrack, composed by Ry Cooder, captures the essence of the Old West and adds an evocative layer to the overall experience.

box office success

Despite its modest budget, The Long Riders performed well at the box office, solidifying its status as a successful Western film.

exploration of brotherhood

The movie delves into the complexities of sibling relationships and paints a vivid picture of the unique bond shared by the James and Younger brothers.

thematic depth

The Long Riders explores themes of loyalty, honor, and the pursuit of justice amidst the lawlessness of the Wild West.

divisive reception

While some praised the film’s attention to historical accuracy, others criticized its portrayal of violence and romanticized view of outlaws.

authentic costumes

The costume designers painstakingly recreated the period attire, further enhancing the film’s authenticity and immersion into the Old West.

character-driven narrative

The Long Riders focuses on developing rich and complex characters, fleshing out the motivations and internal struggles of each brother.

influential cinematography

The film’s cinematography, characterized by sweeping landscapes and striking compositions, has served as a source of inspiration for many subsequent Westerns.

accurate portrayal of events

The Long Riders meticulously recreates the infamous Northfield Raid, one of the most significant events in the gang’s criminal history.

transcending genres

The Long Riders combines elements of Western, drama, and crime genres, resulting in a unique and captivating cinematic experience.

real-life family ties

Actors Stacy and James Keach, brothers in real life, deliver powerful performances as Jesse and Frank James, respectively.

intricate screenplay

The screenplay, written by Bill Bryden and Steven Smith, weaves together multiple storylines and perspectives to provide a comprehensive view of the James-Younger Gang.

focus on historical accuracy

The filmmakers consulted historians and primary sources to capture the essence of the James-Younger Gang and their impact on American history.

memorable quotes

The Long Riders features several memorable lines, including Jesse James’ iconic quote, “We ain’t nothin’ but thieves and killers in a world that don’t want us no more.”

exploration of moral ambiguity

The film delves into the conflicting notions of heroism and villainy, rendering the outlaw brothers as complex and morally gray characters.

impressive sibling chemistry

The real-life sibling actors bring a natural and compelling chemistry to their performances, portraying the strong bond shared by the James and Younger brothers.

Oscar-winning composer

Ry Cooder’s evocative score for The Long Riders earned him critical acclaim and an Academy Award for Best Original Score.

influential visual style

The film’s striking visual style, complemented by the meticulous production design, has influenced subsequent Western films and the way the genre is portrayed.

historical documentation

The filmmakers used extensive research and historical photographs to recreate the events and settings depicted in the movie with accuracy and authenticity.

showcase of brotherly loyalty

The Long Riders celebrates the unwavering loyalty between the James and Younger brothers, highlighting the lengths they would go to protect one another.

exploration of societal divisions

The film delves into the societal divisions of the time, presenting the James-Younger Gang as both victims of oppression and perpetrators of violence.

reflective narration

The movie incorporates reflective narration by legendary actor Robert Carradine, providing insights into the motivations and emotions of the gang members.

emphasis on brotherhood

The Long Riders places a strong emphasis on the bond between the James and Younger brothers, exploring their shared history and experiences.

immersive production design

The intricate production design transports viewers back to the gritty and lawless era of the Old West, creating an immersive and authentic setting.

exploration of loss and grief

The film delves into the profound impact of loss and grief on the James-Younger Gang, adding depth to their motivations and actions.

realistic action sequences

The Long Riders prioritizes realism in its action sequences, foregoing exaggerated stunts in favor of grounded and believable portrayals of violence.

iconic performances

The cast delivers outstanding performances, with David, Keith, and Robert Carradine, and James and Stacy Keach standing out in their respective roles.

exploration of historical mythology

The Long Riders examines the enduring historical myths surrounding the James-Younger Gang, shedding light on the legend and reality of their lives.

enduring popularity

Decades after its release, The Long Riders continues to captivate audiences with its compelling storytelling and powerful performances.

legacy in the Western genre

The film has left a lasting legacy in the Western genre, inspiring subsequent films to explore the complexities of brotherhood and the allure of the outlaw.


In conclusion, The Long Riders is a timeless classic that continues to captivate audiences with its thrilling storyline, exceptional performances, and meticulous attention to detail. With its gritty portrayal of the infamous James-Younger gang and its groundbreaking use of real-life siblings in the lead roles, this film has solidified its place in cinema history. From the stunning cinematography to the intense action sequences, The Long Riders delivers an unforgettable cinematic experience that is not to be missed. Whether you’re a fan of westerns or simply appreciate great storytelling, this movie is a must-see.


Q: Who directed The Long Riders?

A: The Long Riders was directed by Walter Hill.

Q: When was The Long Riders released?

A: The movie was released on May 16, 1980.

Q: Is The Long Riders based on a true story?

A: Yes, The Long Riders is based on the real-life exploits of the James-Younger gang.

Q: Who are the main actors in The Long Riders?

A: The movie features a stellar cast that includes James Keach, Stacy Keach, David Carradine, Keith Carradine, Dennis Quaid, and Randy Quaid.

Q: What genre does The Long Riders fall under?

A: The Long Riders is a western film that combines elements of action, drama, and crime.

Q: Are there any memorable scenes in The Long Riders?

A: Yes, the movie is filled with iconic scenes, including the climactic Northfield Bank raid.

Q: Did The Long Riders receive any awards or nominations?

A: While the film did not receive any major awards, it was highly acclaimed for its authentic portrayal of the James-Younger gang.

Q: Is The Long Riders available for streaming or purchase?

A: Yes, The Long Riders is available for streaming on various platforms and can also be purchased on DVD and Blu-ray.